Unfortunately, the costs associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming. The multiple diagnostic tests, various lengthy and possibly invasive treatment options, hospital stays and travel expenses have a way of adding up, even with health insurance.
These expenses are necessary for your long-term survival. Even with financial help, it is important to understand and plan for them to avoid falling into debt. When money does get tight, there are a number of financial assistance options to help you and your caregiver cover the costs of living with this rare disease.
Factors that Affect Expenses
The financial burden of receiving treatments varies from person to person. Costs depend on insurance coverage, stage of cancer and the type and length of treatment, among other factors.
Costs associated with mesothelioma have not been studied as much as other cancers, because of its rarity, but the National Cancer Institute reports that someone over the age of 65 with lung cancer can expect to pay about $60,000 for the first year of treatment, about $8,000 each year after that and about $92,000 for the last year of life.
Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, natural medicines and homeopathy may help relieve pain and curb side effects of other treatments, but these may not be covered by your health insurance.
Given the rarity of this type of cancer, the number of specialty cancer centers in the country is limited. You may have to travel a considerable distance — while spending a hefty amount of money on airfare and hotel — to receive care from a team of specialists who have experience treating mesothelioma.
The Corporate Angel Network is a charitable organization that provides cancer patients with more than 3,000 free flights annually for their diagnosis. Angel Flights is another charitable group that offers free travel in the Midwest for treatment at the notable mesothelioma cancer center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Fisher House Foundation is an organization that provides veterans and their families a place to stay during treatment for a medical illness. Because one-third of all mesothelioma patients are veterans, this is a valuable organization. There are now more than 50 Fisher Houses located on the property of military hospitals and VA clinics across the country.
Hospitality Homes is a program located in Boston whose volunteers provide short-term housing for patients seeking care at nearby health care organizations, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Patients must be accompanied by a friend or family member and a personal reference is required.
One expense many forget to factor into their budget is loss of wages. Your diagnosis may require you to take unpaid time off work to travel and receive treatment, or you may not be able to work at all. Your loved one or caregiver may also need to take time away from work to help you during your treatment.
To help offset the costs of a cancer diagnosis, there are many organizations that offer grants for treatment, travel or any cost of living that may become harder to afford.
- The Chain Fund Compassionate hands assisting interim needs
The Chain Fund, Inc. is an organization that offers cancer patients grants to help pay for their mortgage, rent, utilities, prescription and insurance copays and other expenses in an effort to help them get back on their feet.
- The SAMFund For young adult survivors of cancer
The SAMFund provides grants to cancer patients ages 21-39 to help them move forward with their lives after cancer. It has awarded $1.1 million to recipients across the country since 2005.
- The Brenda Mehlin Cancer Fund Financial assistance during the battle
The Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund (BMCF) provides grants to cancer patients ages 18-40 to help with the medical costs associated with cancer. Since its founding in 2011, it has provided $280,888 in services to more than 400 young adults.
There are some nonprofit groups that specifically raise money for people battling the costs of living with cancer. These charities often provide services at no cost to you, as well as offer financial assistance with traveling or finding you a place to stay during treatment.
- Air Charity Network
- American Cancer Society
- Cancer Fund of America, Inc.
- Caner Prevention Institute of California
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that advances quickly. This means you may be stuck with large medical bills in a short amount of time. One way to help with these ever-growing medical bills is to file a mesothelioma claim through litigation, a bankruptcy trust, veterans benefits or workers’ compensation.
The three types of claims that can be filed are for personal injury, wrongful death or veterans. Specific rights concerning these three claims may differ from state to state. Talk with an experienced mesothelioma attorney about these rights and what the best way is for you to file a claim.
- Personal Injury Filed by the person diagnosed
If you ever worked with asbestos and developed an asbestos-related condition, you may have between one and five years after your diagnosis to file a claim against the company that manufactured the asbestos.
- Wrongful Death Filed by a family member
If your loved one died from an asbestos-related illness, you may have between one and three years after the date of death to file a claim.
- Veterans Assistance Filed by U.S. military veterans
Veterans of the U.S. military who have an asbestos-related condition may be eligible for additional financial assistance through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
GoFundMe is the number one crowdfunding and fundraising website in the world. In fact, the site has helped people raise more than $280 million in donations for personal causes.
Most people use GoFundMe to raise money for themselves, a friend or loved one during an important event in life, such as a mesothelioma diagnosis. It is one of the safest and easiest ways to raise money online. It is also a good way to spread awareness of this very rare cancer.